Overview

compass


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A small magnet pivoted at its central point to revolve in a horizontal plane. In the earth's magnetic field the magnet (called the compass needle) aligns itself so that its north-seeking end points to the earth's magnetic north pole. A scale (called a compass card) is placed below the needle for use in navigation. In some navigation compasses the entire card is pivoted, indicating direction by a fixed mark on the casing. Such compasses are often filled with alcohol to provide damping. Magnetic compasses suffer from being affected by magnetic metals in their vicinity and to a large extent they have been replaced by gyrocompasses. The compass was invented in ancient China.

Subjects: History by Period — Physics.


Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »


Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.